Bruce inducts U2

Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Well, there I was sitting down on the couch in my pajamas with my eldest son. He was watching TV. I was doing one of my favorite things. I was tallying up all the money I passed up in endorsements over the years and thinking of all the fun I could have had with it.Suddenly I hear “Uno, dos, tres, catorce!” I look up. But instead of the silhouettes of the hippie-wannabes bouncing around in the iPod commercial, I see my boys! Oh my God! They sold out! Now, what I know about the iPod is this: It is a device that plays music. Of course, their new song sounded great, my guys are doing great, but methinks I hear the footsteps of my old tape operator of Jimmy Iovine somewhere.

Wily. Smart.

Now, personally, I live an insanely expensive lifestyle that my wife barely tolerates. I burn money, and that calls for huge amounts of cash flow. But, I also have a ludicrous image of myself that keeps me from truly cashing in. You can see my problem. Woe is me.

So, the next morning, I call up Jon Landau (or as I refer to him, “the American Paul McGuinness”), and I say, “Did you see that iPod thing?” and he says yes. And he says, “And I hear they didn’t take any money.” And I said, “They didn’t take any money?” and he says no.

I said, “Smart, wily Irish guys. Anybody – anybody – can do an ad and take the money. But to do the ad and not take the money… that’s smart. That’s wily.” I say, “Jon, I want you to call up Bill Gates or whoever is behind this thing and float this: a red, white and blue iPod signed by Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen. Now remember, no matter how much money he offers, don’t take it!”

 Full text of the speech.

What we know about the day

News isn’t the most upbeat profession, especially on days like today. Premature baby, unnamed, dies as a result of yesterday’s West Bank bus attack. (Mother was shot seven times; baby delivered via C-section; baby wasn’t shot but died because of mother’s blood loss.) Police arrest man for cooking a kitten on a grill. (Cat was rescued but later died from its massive burns.) Prosecutors charge a Texas nurse with multiple murder counts, following an investigation into 20 suspicious deaths at the hospital where she worked. (All of the victims died from injections of a muscle relaxant that is deadly in large amounts.) Police find five-year-old Samantha Runnion. (She is dead with signs of sexual assault and trauma. Police say the killer will likely try to strike again in the next 24 hours.)

So when you leave work and turn on the radio on your way out of the parking lot, the closing strains of U2’s “Beautiful Day” are angering. The car’s steaming, and you’re hitting the point in the lot where the sun peaks under the roof into your vision. You can’t see anything, feel like you don’t know anything — and “beautiful” would not be the word to describe the little that you do know. From where you sat all day, it wasn’t beautiful in the least.

But the radio keeps playing and you keep driving. On the downtown avenues, people walk to and from on the sidewalks, and some cross in front of you at the lights. The expressions on their faces are a mix — what you’d expect from a crowd. Some are smiling. Some are frowning. Some look as depressed and as drained of expression as you feel. Strangely enough, the last group is where you find hope.

Because those people, the ones that look pissed, broken and empty, they weren’t sitting in your seat all day. They were sitting somewhere else in the world, or maybe standing and now their feet hurt. Who knows. They might have spent all day down a manhole, 50 feet below the newsstand on the street and the television set on the shelf in the dry cleaner. But it stunk in that hole, and that’s why their today was no good.

Halfway through downtown, a quarter of the way from work to home, Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut” comes on your car radio. You listen to the lyrics. “Bruder bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime / His sister had anudder one she paid it for de lime / She put de lime in de coconut, she drank ’em bot’ up / She put de lime in de coconut, she drank ’em bot’ up.”

What in the world does the song mean? Maybe other people know, but you don’t. The song doesn’t make any sense at all to you. Who knows, you think. And so the world spins around past. Everybody’s day was different today, and probably some turned out all right.